DUP on 'wrong side' of withdrawal agreement argument

Representatives of Stormont's pro-Remain parties following their meeting with groups and organisations representing civic society– L-R Stephen Farry (Alliance), Colum Eastwood (SDLP) Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Fein) and Clare Bailey (Green Party). Picture by Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

THE DUP's opposition to the withdrawal agreement has left it on the "wrong side of the argument", according to Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill.

The Mid Ulster MLA was speaking yesterday after Stormont's pro-Remain parties met representatives from civil society, including trade unionists, senior university staff and representatives and the community and voluntary sectors.

Ms O'Neill said there was "unprecedented unity" among representatives of civic society, business and the four parties – Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and the Greens – in backing the deal that goes before MPs a week from today.

"Brexit presents a major threat to all the sectors represented today in terms of the risk to EU funding for community projects and university research, educational opportunities in the EU and the dilution of workers’ rights," she said.

"This is obviously causing a great deal of concern so I welcome the fact that more and more sectors are making their voices heard – the DUP are clearly on the wrong side of the argument."

The Sinn Féin deputy leader said Arlene Foster's party's opposition to the withdrawal agreement had set them against the "wishes and best interests of the vast majority of citizens".

“That agreement is not perfect and neither is the backstop contained within it, however, it is the least worst option and remains our best insurance policy against the worst excesses of Brexit on the island of Ireland," she said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said his party supported the deal because of the backstop.

"It is reckless for anyone to say that there is an alternative to the backstop, there is not," the Foyle MLA said.

"Our people here cannot and will not be allowed to be left at the whim of a hard border, that is simply unacceptable."

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